Repole Stables' favored Unlimited Budget kept her record perfect when she easily captured the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. III) by 3 3/4 lengths over 20-1 shot Promise Me More at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots (VIDEO).
Named after the 2009 Horse of the Year, the 1 1/16 mile Rachel Alexandra featured a full field of 10 3-year-old fillies, several of which are hoping for a starting position in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
The race serves as the final local prep for the March 30 Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II). Five of the past eight Fair Grounds Oaks winners have gone on to victory in the Kentucky Oaks. Unlimited Budget, the 3-2 favorite, earned 50 points for her Rachel Alexandra victory while Promise Me More earned 20 for her runner-up finish.
Dancinginthecircle took the early lead in the Rachel Alexandra with Daddy's Song stalking in second. The race had fractional splits of :22.88, :46.40, and 1:12.32 with Dancinginthecircle opening up by as many as fourth lengths.
Unlimited Budget, the 122-pound highweight who scored front-running victories in her first two starts, came from off the pace in the Rachel Alexandra. She swung four wide at the quarter pole and gained a four-length lead mid-stretch under jockey Rosie Napravnik.
"She's been a filly that's shown that she could do pretty much whatever she needs to," said Whit Beckman, assistant to winning trainer Todd Pletcher, of the daughter of Street Sense . "I preferred the race to be on the lead, but with that hot pace in front of her it set up well and showed some versatility, so we were happy."
Unlimited Budget, who broke her maiden by 9 1/2 lengths at Aqueduct in November, came into the Rachel Alexandra off a front-running victory in the Nov. 24 Demoiselle (gr. II) at the New York track. She has now earned $310,200 from her three career starts.
Promise Me More finished four lengths in front of third-place finisher Blue Violet. Completing the order of finish was Every Way, Dancinginthecircle, Finding More, Midnight Ballet, Neith, Alluring Lady, and Daddy's Song.
"I had a good trip," said jockey Miguel Mena of Promise Me More. "I was just in the back of the pack, I had a nice break, saved a lot of ground, and then from the quarter pole she made a very nice run."
"Second best but coming on late," added Wes Hawley, the trainer of Promise Me More. "We will take that today. I don't think we were going to catch that other filly but a mile-and-one-eighth is a different story."
Larry Jones is trainer of both Blue Violet and Dancingthecircle.
"This filly's getting better," he said of Blue Violet. "I had her mother (Gasia) and I'm seeing a very similar pattern but this filly is getting better faster than her mother did and her mother was a grade II horse. Every race is a continued improvement and no race is getting a huge improvement, which makes you think there isn't going to be a bounce factor."
Unlimited Budget paid $5, $3.60, $3, while Promise Me More returned $11.80 and $6.40. Blue Violet paid $6.60 to show.
Unlimited Budget, a $475,000 purchase at the 2012 Ocala Breeders' Sale Co.'s select sale of 2-year-olds in training, was bred in Florida by Ocala Stud. She is out of the Valid Appeal mare Unlimited Pleasure.